The Maati Centre, started in 2009, has evolved into a platform for young entrepreneurs in the region to showcase their art and craft work. Located in Lamb road of Uzan Bazar, it is now a strong network of entrepreneurs from 70 NGOs across the region and beyond.
The Maati Centre aims to create a platform in the region for better exposure and knowledge sharing in the field of art and craft. It is a creative enterprise, spear-headed by Pabitra Lama Sarmah and Rishi Raj Sarmah.
“There are great opportunities in the region that need to be explored. A lot of women entrepreneurs are engaged in Assam but they limit themselves to the mekhela chadar. There is a need to focus on other small items of utility,” Pabitra Lama Sarmah pointed out.
In spite of immense potential, Assam is still struggling in terms of entrepreneurial development.
So what are the various issues that rural artisans generally face?
“The approach is very different for north east and other parts of India. For instance, weaving is one culture but outside people weave as a sustainable form of earning. But here, women do not find enough time and they treat it as a second option,” Rishi Raj Sarmah said.
He added when payments are transparent, it boosts the confidence of the artisans.
Pabitra Lama Sarmah is also working with independent women artisans in North Cachar Hills and she noted that the artisans need to become more aware about the prevailing trends and prices in the market.
“The prices should be competitive and further, designers are not willing to take up the challenge to break away from traditional ways and focus on utility,” she said.
“The domestic consumption is really poor. The rural artisans will be able to produce more only when their items get sold out. From what we have seen, people do not extend much support to new ventures,” Rishi Raj Sarmah noted.
The artisans in rural areas lack a platform to sell their products. And this is where Maati Centre is playing a crucial role by bridging the gap between rural crafts and urban markets.
They form tie-ups with local NGOs in remote villages across northeast India and beyond to promote various talents. Moreover, it is a platform for artists and artisans to showcase their contemporary, folk art and craft.
As part of their future initiatives, the Maati Centre is documenting various community-oriented stories which will be launched soon. Further, they have also adopted two villages in Majuli to closely work with the Mishing people for community development.